Preparing Young Americans for a Complex World
Last year, the Council on Foreign Relations and National Geographic commissioned a survey to assess the global literacy of American college students. Over 1,200 people participated; less than 30 percent earned a passing grade. Below are six questions they included, each of which a majority of respondents answered incorrectly. See how you, or your students or children, do. (Answers below.)
1. In which of these countries is a majority of the population Muslim?
a) South Africa
2. Which language is spoken by the most people in the world as their primary language?
b) Mandarin Chinese
3. Which country is the largest trading partner of the United States, based on the total dollar value of goods and services?
d) Saudi Arabia
4. Approximately what percentage of the United States federal budget is spent on foreign aid?
a) 1 percent
b) 5 percent
c) 12 percent
d) 30 percent
e) 40 percent
5. Which countries is the United States bound by treaty to protect if they are attacked? (select all that apply)
e) North Korea
g) South Korea
6. True or False: Over the past five years, the number of Mexicans leaving the United States and returning to Mexico has been greater than the number of Mexicans entering the United States.
*Answers, with percentage of respondents who gave the correct answer.
1. d (29 percent)
2. b (49 percent)
3. a (10 percent)
4. a (12 percent)
5. a (47 percent), c (28 percent), g (34 percent), h (14 percent)
6. True (34 percent)